Author Topic: Australia’s New Armoured Fist  (Read 268 times)

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Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« on: April 03, 2024, 01:33:01 AM »
Australia’s New Armoured Fist

The 2000 Australian Defence White Paper assessed that its current in-service tank, the Leopard AS1, no longer met the requirements of the Army.   Defence further assessed that its ability to support the existing fleet of 75 Leopard AS1 tanks until their anticipated Life of Type in 2020 would become increasingly problematic.  In the following years, it was widely expected that Australia would order new tanks with the leading contenders being seen as either the German Leopard 2, British Challenger 2 or American M1 Abrams with most expecting a Leopard 2 buy to follow on from the Leopard 1s.  Eventually in early 2005 it was announced that Australia would acquire some 59 M1A1 AIM Abrams Main Battle tanks, 7 M88A2 Hercules Recovery Vehicles, 14 commercially contracted heavy tank transporters as well as numerous other support elements.  This would all be done under the aegis of Project Land 907.

While this was going on, there were also rumblings from within the Army to also address the need for a replacement for the M113 armoured personal carriers that had been in service since the mid 1960s.  While  the Project Waler, which had aimed to replace the M113s with new armoured vehicles by the mid-1990s, had been rejected in favour of a major life extension to the M11 3s, creating the M113AS4 variant, this was not proceeding well.  Although the contract for the upgrade project had only been  signed in July 2002, the project was already struggling with significant technical problems and schedule delays and had been subject to a damning  Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report in early 2005.

By 2006, the year the first M113 AS4 was supposed to have been delivered, things were no better.  Consequently, in November that year, a new extension to the Land 907 project was announced.   First of all, under Phase 2, it was announced that an FMS buy of some 350 M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) would occur.  These would be identical in configuration to those vehicles already in service with the US Army.  The first M2A3 vehicles were supplied from existing US Army stock and would arrive in Australia in mid 2007. Also acquired as part of the same deal, but under Phase 3, were 14 M6 Bradley Linebacker air defense vehicles.  Additionally, a further Phase 4 was also announced comprising a further 30 M1A1 Abrams tanks plus 8 M104 Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridges (HAB).  It was also announced that Australia would co-develop, with the USMC, an M1 derived Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV).  The first of these would eventually enter service in 2010 as the M1150 ABV.

Finally in 2007, while on the election trail, the Australian Federal Election, then Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, surprised both his own staff and the Australian Army by announcing that his Government had decided to short cut the Land 17 project to acquire new artillery for the Army, which had only just released a RFT document, by announcing that if re-elected, his Government would proceed with the acquisition of 30 US M109A6 Paladin and 15 M992 Field Artillery Ammunition Supply Vehicles (FAASV), as well as 30 M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS).  Although John Howard would lose the election, his commitment was honoured by the new government of Kevin Rudd, with the resulting vehicles acquired under Project Land 17 Phases 1 and 2 respectively.  The first vehicles would enter service in 2009.

Thus was Australia’s Heavy Armoured Capability Systems (HACS), or more colloquially, “Australia’s Armoured Fist” established for the coming years.



Left: A newly-delivered M6 (AU) Fullback Air Defence Vehicle. Like all ADVs, this M6 (AU) belonged to 'C' Squadron, 16th Air Defence Regiment but 'Cobra' was assigned to the 3rd Brigade at Townsville.

Note the uncamouflaged underside of the deployed missile 'box'. This reveals that the Fullback's camouflage pattern has been applied over top of its original US Army Desert Sand scheme.

Right: An ADF M2A3 (AU) of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment at speed on the Townsville Field Training Area in the Spring of 2012. This Bradley belongs to 'A' Squadron of 2 CAV - hence the alliterative vehicle name 'Anthrax'. All ADF M2A3 (AU) IFVs were delivered in this three-colour camouflage scheme.






Refurbished from US Army stocks, the first 'Australianised' M2A3 (AU) infantry fighting vehicles began arriving in early 2009. [1] These IFVs were quickly followed by a smaller number of Air Defence Vehicles - refurbished surplus US Army M6 Linebackers brought up from the original M2A2 ODS to Australian M2A3 (AU) vehicular standards.

In ADF service, the new Air Defence Vehicles were designated M6 (AU) and renamed Fullback (although they differed little from recently withdrawn US Army Linebackers). [2] The M6 (AU) were issued to 'C' Squadron of the 16th Air Defence Regiment (aka the 112th Air Land Battery, although rarely known by that). [3] Individual 'C' Squadron M6 (AU)s then became lodger units with the Australian Army's armoured cavalry regiments.
_____________________________________________________

[1] Changes made had mainly to do with ADF-specific weapons stowage racks and additional potable water carriage.

[2] The American term 'linebacker' had little resonance in Australia. And, since the US Army had begun phasing out its M6 Linebacker Air Defense System fleet in 2005, no interoperability issues would be raised by an ADF name change. So, the M6 (AU) Fullback got its new name from the full back position in Aussie rules football.

[3] In 2011, 16 ADR would be amalgamated with the 1st Ground Liaison Group to form 16th Air Land Regiment.

CFBVs



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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2024, 01:35:17 AM »
Thanks once again to Stephen (aka apophenia) for indulging my requests for profiles and story input.
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2024, 01:38:45 AM »
This story is meant to show what could have happened if a number of current ADF projects such as Land 400 Ph3, Land 8160, Land 8116, Land 8113 amongst others were shifted forward by roughly 10yrs.
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2024, 06:14:40 AM »
Good to see this mounted! Well done Greg  :smiley:
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Offline Buzzbomb

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Re: Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2024, 09:46:57 AM »
All I can do is roll my eyes and go.. "If only...."

The alt history of all this that makes perfect sense and great drawings

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2024, 01:21:13 AM »
Obviously not shown here are the real world M1A1s acquired back then:

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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2024, 09:29:52 PM »
Good to see the M1A1 track guard are holding up as expected under Australian bush-bashing conditions. ;)
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Offline Rickshaw

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Re: Australia’s New Armoured Fist
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2024, 12:43:32 PM »
Interesting though, the corner track guards are taking a bit of a bashing in contrast.  While the trackguards are showing the effects of a bit of bush-bashing.